On Wednesday 15 June, LJMU celebrated the work of women in football at the inaugural meeting of the Football Exchange Women’s Network (FExWN).
The event brought together network members, delegates and industry speakers to celebrate their contributions to the sport and to challenge the realms of what is considered possible.
The jam-packed day of presentations and discussions was spearheaded by network founder and leader Dr Fran Champ, an LJMU lecturer in the psychology of football and the performance psychologist for Liverpool FC Women.
The event provided a unique opportunity for practitioners and researchers at all stages of their career to connect, interact and discuss ideas and projects across the theme of women in football.
'Only the start of our journey'
“It was a fantastic event, and it was really pleasing to see so many of our students, staff and alumni attend in support of the network,” said Fran. “We’re incredibly grateful to all of our guest speakers who engaged, informed and inspired delegates throughout the day. This is only the start of our journey together and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the network and its members.”
Ten guest speakers gave presentations throughout the day sharing their insights relating to research, practice and experiences working or volunteering as a woman in the male dominated world of football.
Attendees heard from Lewes FC footballer Ini Umotong, Dr Jacky Forsyth from Staffordshire University and Dr Georgina Stebbings who works with England Para Football, during a panel discussion on past, present and future perspectives for women in football.
Dr Katrine Kryger from St Mary’s University provided a virtual overview of research in women’s football and a sport psychology Q&A session hosted by Sarah Murray from Performance Edge and Dr Fran Champ highlighted the importance of the discipline in elite-level sport.
Research on women’s experiences of sexism in sport was shared by LJMU research assistant Kristin McGinty-Minster and Dr Laura Swettenham, LJMU alumni who now works for the International Federation of eSport Coaches and Cultiv8 Tennis.
Comfort Etim, the founder of a football team for female refugees based in Toxteth, was joined by one of the team’s coaches and MSc Sport Science student Ellie Fox to share their story of uniting women through the beautiful game.
Other discussions and presentations focused on the work of sport psychologists in both the men’s and women’s elite-level game, with Alice Stratford from Everton FC Women rounding off the day sharing her reflections on the off-season as a trainee sport psychologist.
One delegate currently working in elite football, who attended the event, said: “The inclusion of examples and case studies of the great work that some of the network members are doing in research and applied practice was superb and demonstrates the scope and value of further developing the network.”
An MSc Sport Psychology student said: “I wanted to say thanks for the opportunity to attend the women's football event today - I found it so insightful and really got a lot out of it. I came away feeling really inspired by the event and I am just grateful at the chance to be part of something that also resonates with me on a personal level, so I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to be there.”
The Football Exchange Women’s Network is part of LJMU’s Football Exchange (FEx). It aims to connect women working across the world in the football industry by offering opportunities for curriculum placements, mentoring, networking, lectures and events, plus the potential for research collaboration or further study. Core membership is open to LJMU staff, students and alumni currently working in football.
Follow the network on Twitter: @LJMUFootball
Follow the school on Twitter: @LJMUSportSci